By Bernard McGinn (ed.)

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So when Origen sets out to explain the Bible's apocalyptic passages-something he only seems to do when the context of his exegesis makes it unavoidable-he tends to take them either as referring to past events or in what he understands as their deeper, "spiritual" meaning, rather than to see in them indications of unprecedented future disasters. , and takes Daniel's "seventy weeks of years" (Dan. 11 :26) as referring to the time 16 THE HISTORICAL DEVELOPMENT OF APOCALYPTICISM between the prophet and the fall ofJerusalem (Comm.

Then, when all things are made new, we shall truly dwell in the city of God. (Adv. haer. 2) c=- THE FINAL CENTURY OF PERSECUTIONS - - - - - As a religious group not officially sanctioned by the Roman state and as objects of widespread prejudice and ignorance, Christians were occasionally subject to arrest and persecution, on a variety of grounds, in the first two centuries of their history; it was only in the third century, however, that persecution became, in several brief but bloody episodes, systematic and universal.

12-15). In making use of the apocalyptic tradition, Ambrose generally remains the learned pastor and rhetor rather than a prophet of approaching doom. The last three decades of the fourth century, however, as well as the first half of the fifth, witnessed a gradual bur steady revival in apocalyptic expectations of a more intense and literal kind. The reasons for this widespread sharpening of a sense of cosmic crisis are not easy to identify. Christians were now not only accorded full legal status and religious recognition but became, by the reign ofTheodosius, the empire's favored and dominant religious body.

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